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Insights // 15 July 2021

Thames Valley – Local Plan Updates, Where Are We?

Solicitor Kayleigh Chapman, in our leading Planning & Environmental Law team, looks at where local authorities across the Thames Valley are with their Local Plans.

In order to understand the importance of a Development Plan, it is critical to have regard to the legislative framework within which planning decisions are made.

Legislation

Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 provides that “If regard is to be had to the development plan for the purpose of any determination to be made under the planning Acts the determination must be made in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.”

Section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides the following:
In dealing with an application for planning permission or permission in principle the authority shall have regard to:

(a) the provisions of the development plan, so far as material to the application,…

(c) any other material considerations.

It is clear therefore that the Development Plan plays an instrumental part in determining planning applications. Local Planning Authorities are under a duty to have regard to the Development Plan, and make determinations in accordance with that Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Unfortunately, what forms the Development Plan is not always very clear. It is rarely one document so instead it is important to consider a range of documents. The usual suspects are Core Strategies, Local Plans, Development Management Policy Documents etc. Material considerations include the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD).

A number of Local Planning Authorities in the Thames Valley region are currently developing a new Local Plan or updating an existing one.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC)

WBC ran a consultation on its draft Local Plan between February and April 2020. Since that time there has been a change to the emergency planning requirements around AWE Burghfield and accordingly further master-planning work is now required in respect of the proposed new garden town in Grazeley.

The Council anticipates that a further consultation on the next stage of the Local Plan will take place later in 2021.

It is therefore unlikely that WBC will now meet its target, as set out in the Local Development Scheme, of adoption of the Local Plan in Winter 2021. Instead we would expect adoption to not be until at least late 2022.

West Berkshire Council

The Local Development Scheme for West Berkshire Council’s Local Plan Review (up to 2037) estimated that adoption of that updated Local Plan would take place in December 2020. This Scheme was last updated in April 2020.

In December 2020 to February 2021, the Council consulted on its emerging draft Local Plan Review. The Council anticipates that a further consultation on the draft version of the Local Plan Review will take place in summer 2021. At the time of writing, the draft version of the Local Plan Review has not been published for consultation.

South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC)

SODC adopted its much anticipated Local Plan in December 2020 (further information in respect of the history of that plan is available here). A Community Interest Company, known as Bioabundance CIC, applied to judicially review the adoption of that Local Plan in January 2021, on environmental grounds, and that application was refused by the High Court in April 2021. According to a recent news article on SODC’s website, Bioabundance CIC made an application to appeal this refusal to the Court of Appeal and this application was refused in June 2021.

Bracknell Forest Council (BFC)

BFC started to prepare its updated Local Plan by an Issues and Opinions Consultation in June and July 2016. The Pre-Submission Local Plan was finally consulted on between March and May 2021 and BFC will shortly be submitting the plan to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. BFC currently hopes to be in a position to adopt the Local Plan in spring 2022.

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM)

RBWM submitted its Local Plan for the period of 2013 to 2033 in January 2018. The examination of the Local Plan has been ongoing since March 2018. In December 2020, RBWM wrote to the Inspector to request that they issue the proposed modifications required to make the Local Plan legally sound. The Council will begin to consult on the proposed modifications on 19 July 2021.

Slough Borough Council (SBC)

SBC began preparation of its Local Plan in January 2015. A consultation on the spatial strategy took place between November 2020 and January 2021. The Council’s website currently anticipates publishing the draft version Local Plan and submitting it for examination in 2022 and 2023.

Reading Borough Council (RBC)

RBC adopted its new Local Plan in November 2019 and this is intended to guide development throughout the Borough up to 2036.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice. 

Kayleigh Chapman

Kayleigh Chapman

Solicitor, Planning & Environmental Law

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